When a college rep visits your school, it’s an opportunity to put a face to your application. However, the best way to stand out and be memorable is not by solely asking questions easily answered by an online fact-sheet. This sends the rep into auto-pilot mode, rattling off memorized “sound bites” and making your interaction one that won’t stand out. The questions below will help you cultivate a more genuine and insightful connection—turning the discussion into a more personal, heart-to-heart interaction that has a higher chance of leaving an impression.

Note: notice that the questions below follow a deliberate pattern where you will alternate between asking for the admissions officer’s personal advice [R] (to establish a two-way conversation) and questions to obtain necessary information about the college [C] (which is the purpose of the conversation but steers you back to a one-way conversation). Your aim is to strike an even balance.

Tip:  Print and take this sheet with you to the conversation for reference. Admissions officers like students who have notes.

♦ = must ask question

Starter Question [R]  

 First, explain your interest in your desired major plus finding the colleges that are the right “fit” for you to grow.
 Then, transition to: “What is it like to be on your side of the desk?” Note: this will make you look smart and might launching the admissions officer into a 10+ minute, insightful talk about his/her past experiences.

Education Philosophy [C]

What is distinctive about the educational philosophy at your college for my desired major?
What do you wish more students at your college knew about your college?
What are some things that people commonly misperceive about your college?
Does the surrounding community contribute to student learning and experiences?
• What kinds of study abroad and non-traditional learning opportunities exist?

Becoming More Personal [R]

• What was your favorite experience from college? Why?
• If you could go back, what would you change? Why?
• Did you change your major? Why?
What are your passions? How did you find or develop them through college? (Note: this is where you may turn a spark into a flame – this question is gold)
What was your favorite class from college? Was the class unique to your college? What was your favorite lesson from it?

Student Life [C]

What fun traditions are there?
• Are there fraternities and sororities? How dominant of an impact do they on the social scene?
• What special guest speakers have visited the college to speak in recent times?
• What musical artists have performed for students in recent times?
What are some interesting initiatives that students have launched in recent times? (i.e. inventions, movements, campaigns, etc.)

Faculty Interaction [C]

• What is the typical level of interaction between students and their favorite faculty members outside of class?
Do freshmen have the opportunity to take courses in their major before junior year?
• How large are the class sizes? And what does it feel like?
• Are there research opportunities with the faculty? How soon could I participate in that?

Weather and Location [C]

♦ What is the weather like throughout each season?
• What is the closest city or national park? How easy is it for students to get there?

Comparisons [R]

• Did you attend this college? If so: what led you to it? If not, how might you you have been shaped differently had you gone to this current college?
Have you been an admissions officer for other colleges?  How does the atmosphere of those colleges compare to this one? (Note: a lot of admissions officers have worked at other colleges – this question is gold)

Trends [C]

Who is the typical type of student who is happy here?
• Has the type of student the college is attracting changed in recent times?
• Are any new programs scheduled for the next four years?

Financial Aid [C]

♦ Are there any scholarships I might be eligible for? [provide your major and academic details]
• Are there priority deadline for financial aid?

Career Advancement [R]

• Did you take part in any career advancement programs? And was it unique to your college?

Career Preparation [C]

• What does the college do to help graduates find jobs?
Which companies tend to be the major employers of graduates?

Alumni Relations [R]

Did you take part in any networking events to connect with alumni when you were in college. What was the best connection or insight you gained?

Alumni Network [C]

• What kind of opportunities exist for students at the college to network with alumni?
In which regions are the alumni network strongest?

Closing Questions 

♦ When you were applying, what do you know today that you wished you knew back then?
Is there any other advice that helps applicants stand out in the admissions process?
• Bonus: are there any students who work in the admissions office and share my desired major that I might connect with to learn more about their experience as a student?

If you really feel like you made a connection, send a hand-written thank you note.  Otherwise, don’t sweat it. 

Since [name of major] is a possible major for me, I would like to speak with you on the subject of your college experience.
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